Values are defined as something (such as a principle or quality) that is intrinsically desirable. That means our personal values are a principle or quality that is desirable and essential to our nature and our being. Deep right? Well bear with me it seems intense, and it is, but identifying and living by your personal values can be so powerful and freeing that it will blow you away.
There are millions of lists of varying lengths available on-line describing potential values, I am sure there are even on-line quizzes out there too. These can be a good starting place. I will attach a list below that I like to use because it is all inclusive. It is long and can seem overwhelming, but I will walk you though that also.
To start look at the list, I highly suggest printing it off. I think this is the best way to go because you can mark on it and cross things off as you go. Read the words, out loud preferably, and feel if they fit. It they are totally wrong cross them off, if the word fits perfect circle it, if you are unsure just leave it for now. Don’t over think this step just do what feels right. Then go through it again. As you narrow it down feel free to take breaks from the list and come back to it to explore what feels right for you. It is important to focus on what feels right for you, not your best friend or that girl at the gym you want to be like, or you mother-in-law, but YOU. I know this can be a difficult task when most of use spend our day focusing on what other people want and taking care of others, but it is important to focus on just you and what is important to you. As you narrow down the list take some time to think about what each word means and would look like for you to live out in your life. Take honesty for example, this means being truthful, sticking to facts, being fair, and straightforward in your interactions with the world. You could explore what living in an honest ways would look like in your life, you could also explore what expecting others in your life to be honest would look like for you. As you are working through this list I encourage you to narrow it down to 5-10 of the most important values for you.
After you have narrowed down the list to your 5-10 personal values I want you to sit with what you have selected for a few days and practice living them. What does living your personal values mean? It means making choices through out your day that reflect these values and setting boundaries with others who do not respect these values. Living your personal values can help align you with the person you want to be and bring you one step closer to living a life you are proud of. As you practice living these values it is helpful to surround yourself with the values you have chosen. I find it helpful to set events on my phone calendar with my personal values and an alert that goes off at the same time each day. I set one in the morning as I am starting my work day with values I hold that are motivating and driving for my work mind and I set another for the end of my work day as I transition in to my home life role with values that focus me on the type of wife and parent I want to be. Getting these reminders daily helps me focus on who I am and what is important to me. You could also choose to leave yourself notes around the house, on you desk at work, or in your car that remind you of your values. Or if you enjoy being creative you could make something that reminds you of your values such as a college or pictures. The point is not how you do it but that you do it. Surrounding yourself with the personal values can support you in making decisions that are inline with these values.
In my next article I will talk you though why it is so important to identify and live your values and what happens when people don’t live in line with their values.
I encourage you to print off the list below and start working toward defining your personal values. What are your values and how are you living them each day?